Dining with Disney Princesses at California Adventure

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Despite having visited Disney World while in Florida, I still had a visit to Disney Land as one of my #1 priorities while in Los Angeles. I’d been so enchanted by my experience at the park that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to inject a little magic into my life again.

So, after a day spent on Leo Carrillo Beach, it was time to return to the Happiest Place on Earth.

The Decision – Disney Land or California Adventure?

I was already aware that Disney Land was considerably smaller than its Florida cousin (or should that be nephew?), but didn’t realize that California Adventure lay right beside the original Disney Park.

With my girlfriend at the time obsessed with The Little Mermaid and me a big fan of all things Pixar, it seemed a logical conclusion to pay a visit to California Adventure. Especially given that Disney Land featured so many rides and attractions I’d seen only two weeks before at Disney World.

Want to know more about a day in Disney Land? Les Berlinettes visited both parks and snapped some gorgeous photos!

The Rides

I won’t go into a blow by blow review and description of California Adventure. I figure I’ll let some pictures do the talking. But here are a few observations:

  • Compared to Disney World, there are a few more adult/thrill-seeker friendly rides such as the California Screamin’ roller coaster and the Tower of Terror.
  • The 4-D It’s Tough to be a Bug is quite a fun experience, although a bit scary for the arachnophobes.
  • Soarin’ Over California was by far my favourite ride. An exhilarating and unique experience.
  • The atmospheres in A Bug’s Land, Cars Land, and Paradise Pier were wonderful – as is the norm for a Disney park.
  • Lines for Radiator Springs Racers and Grizzly River Run were over 5 hours and 3 hours respectively, so we didn’t get to ride.
  • Avoid The Muppets Show. Just not very good at all.
Luigi's Flying Tires might be one of the weirdest rides I've ever been on.
Luigi’s Flying Tires might be one of the weirdest rides I’ve ever been on.
Not to be confused with the toe-curling, hair-whitening coaster in Australia - the Tower of Terror is still pretty scary fun.
Not to be confused with the toe-curling, hair-whitening coaster in Australia – the Tower of Terror is still pretty scary fun.
I loved the theme of A Bug's Land. The 4-D film is a lot of fun too.
I loved the theme of A Bug’s Land. The 4-D film is a lot of fun too.
One of the most expensive rides in the world and you can see why! Radiator Springs Racers looked fantastic. Pity about the queue.
One of the most expensive rides in the world and you can see why! Radiator Springs Racers looked fantastic. Pity about the queue.
The Santa Monica Pier/Boardwalk inspired Paradise Pier has some fun rides - particularly California Screaming and the rocking Ferris Wheel.
The Santa Monica Pier/Boardwalk inspired Paradise Pier has some fun rides – particularly California Screaming and the rocking Ferris Wheel.

 The Shows

In addition to enjoying a few of the rides, we were also able to see the obligatory Disney parade as well as California Adventure’s answer to the Disney World fireworks display – the amazing World of Colour.

I can’t really do this one justice in words and, sadly, it wasn’t easy to photograph either. But picture fountains of water and fire, your favourite Disney/Pixar music, and projected images of some of your favourite films. It’s really a very stirring display.

Ariel singing the beautiful "Part of Your World" projected against the fountains.
Ariel singing the beautiful “Part of Your World” projected against the fountains.
Bright and colourful Jelly Fish representing Finding Nemo
Bright and colourful Jelly Fish representing Finding Nemo

 

A rather inventive puffer-fish joins the parade.
A rather inventive puffer-fish joins the parade.
A remarkably gymnastic Jessie Jane. Would hit it.
A remarkably gymnastic Jessie from Toy Story 2. Would probably hit it.
The ridiculously popular Mater from Cars rounded out the show.
The ridiculously popular Mater from Cars rounded out the show.

Dinner with a Princess (or five)

I made mention of Heather’s Little Mermaid obsession when I wrote about our visit to New York. You know it’s an obsession when you catch her holding a singing Ariel toy to her ear and gazing off lovingly into the middle distance.

Nomadic American cheats on me with Ariel emotionally
Nomadic American cheats on me (emotionally) with Ariel at the Times Square Disney Princess Store.

This obsession reached fever pitch when we realized that California Adventure not only had a Little Mermaid themed ride full of singing animatronics (a bit shit, really) but also had Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant where you had the opportunity to meet Ariel and dine with some of Disney’s most iconic princesses.

Those who know me know that I’m a sucker for a few things: romance, good food, and spending money. This combined all three!

We made our reservation, rocked up as the sun went down, and prepared to help Heather fulfill a lifelong dream. I know it’s a bit silly. These pretty people with their wigs and expensive costumes aren’t the characters from the movies we loved growing up, but part of the Disney magic is that you actually feel excited and nervous as they approach.

Heather is super excited to meet Ariel. Me? I'm wondering if it's possible to hit that 'have a threesome' bucket list item...
Heather is super excited to meet Ariel. Me? I’m wondering if it’s possible to hit that ‘have a threesome’ bucket list item…

With the formalities of meeting Ariel (although I would have been much more impressed if she had been rocking the shell bikini and fish tail), it was time to be seated.

We got lucky and landed a seat outdoors overlooking the fountains and Paradise Pier. After a stinking hot California day, it was a nice reprieve from the heat.

Brace for food pics!

Fantastic appetizer platter. Sweet Lord.
Fantastic appetizer platter. Sweet Lord.

 

My delicious chicken was an improvement on my earlier bagel.
My delicious chicken was an improvement on my earlier bagel.
Desserts! Amazing, sweet desserts!
Desserts! Amazing, sweet desserts!

We enjoyed our four course meal (there was also bread) and an overpriced cocktail as we soaked in the ambience. And then, as we were finishing dinner and awaiting dessert, trumpets sounded! A herald announced the coming of the princesses and, one by one, we were visited by Belle, Aurora, Cinderella, and Snow White.

It was again a strange case of celebrity excitement as these nameless, underpaid actresses came out and posed for photos. Some (like Cinderella) were all business. Others (like Snow White) were 100% committed to character. And some (Aurora) were so lovely and personable that they made me actually give a shit about Sleeping Beauty.

Oh! And Aurora even taught me how to stand like a Prince!

You can call me Prince Beardy Git.
Aurora and I. You can call me Prince Beardy Git.
Snow White was an absolute champ posing with both of us for multiple shots. She even sounded the part!
Snow White was an absolute champ posing with both of us for multiple shots. She even sounded the part!

Our dinner might have been about as expensive as you’d expect from a Disney Park, but it was a really fun experience. We could have opted for something from a stall or some snacks from our handy backpack, but taking a break to dine with the Disney princess at California Adventure is a memory that’ll stick with me far longer than any number of soggy donuts and sun-warmed guacamole.

Your Say

Have you ever splashed a little extra cash for some fan time with your favourite Disney characters? Or just for a little added opulence on your own theme park visit?

 

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5 comments

  1. Looks like you’re a secret princess fan Chris!! I can see you waltzing around the magic kingdom in a baby blue suit and tails!

  2. I’ve never been to California Adventure (or any Disney Park in Cali for that matter)… but as a Disney connoisseur who’s already been to WDW in Florida, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and TokyoSea, I hope to make it to Cali the next time I find myself Stateside. Looks like you guys had a great time!

    • I really enjoyed WDW (the only other Disney Park I’d been to) and we also ducked into Disney Land while we were at California Adventure. It was a lot of fun.

      Hoping to add HK, Tokyo, Euro, and Shanghai (in 2015) to the list someday.

    • I can certainly see the resemblance. Of course, given how much older Aurora is – I guess you’d argue that Princess Peach looks like Aurora.

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